Warlord Pike and Shotte Epic Battles: the cavalry sprue

As a follow up to my review of Warlord's Epic P&S foot sprue here's my thoughts on the cavalry sprue that came with the latest (April) edition of Wargames Illustrated.

April's WI: the Epic cover art reminds me of the Letraset style action picture scenes of the 1970s

First off, let's have a look at the sprue as a whole. An 'interesting' choice of components for a 'cavalry' sprue, but I understand that the commercial need to 'have everything on just one sprue' dictates what is and what isn't on the sprue. I've already seen quite a few people asking which figures are which, on various forums and FB groups.  So here is a 'button counter's' view of the sprue.

The un-identified figures are generic 'harquebusier type' cavalry. I note that there are two figures that look a bit more officer material than the others, and a cornet who could double up for either the dragoons or the regiments of horse. The major missing element from this sprue are musicians: there needs to be a mounted trumpeter and drummer. Musicians played a very important role during the pike and shotte period, they were not just signallers of an officer's commands, and their absence is a glaring omission.

Update: I knew that the sprue had a separate trumpet that could be glued onto a figure to 'convert' it into a trumpeter (a Warlord press release told me so). Could I find it? No. I gave the stripped sprue a careful final look to find it. Still couldn't find it. So thank you to the anonymous comment writer who spotted it in my sprue picture. I've added a dobbing great arrow to point out the amorphous blob that is supposed to be a trumpet.

Whilst on the subject of trumpets I think it only right that I wax lyrically about why simply gluing a trumpet to a cavalry trooper is not really up to the job.

Trumpeters or heralds were very important in the Civil War. They were not simply a soldier who used a musical instrument to give loud commands to the rest of the troop. They were, on the whole, unarmed protected individuals. They wore clothing befitting of their status, often lavishly dressed and adorned with elements of their commander's coat of arms or cornet. Brereton, for example, spent almost as much on banners for his trumpets as he did on his cornets.

As well as giving musical commands to their fellow soldiers, they were used as messengers across lines of battle. If commanders wanted to parlay with the enemy - they'd send their trumpeters. This quasi-official messenger status was respected by all sides during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. 

As Peter Pig mounted figures match up rather well, then pack 42 is your saviour (a pack of 4 trumpeters/heralds).

The commanded shot and dragoons on foot are differentiated by the commanded shot mostly having musket rests, and the dragoons are mostly wearing short riding boots (as opposed to breeches and stockings). There is little surviving evidence for dragoons being issued short boots, contracts that do exist are for shoes and leather riding gaiters. Both 'sets' of figures could easily be utilised as a firing line for you regiments of foot, which I personally think would be a much better use of them and would fit with the pikemen receiving. This would also increase the proportion of musketeers to pike to a much better historical ratio.

In case you are wondering, the musketeers with rests can not double up as dragoons unfortunately.

I have also read a number of comments about whether a 'forlorn hope' pack will be made available? A 'forlorn hope' was not a dedicated unit, nor did it have a standard make up. 'Forlorn hope' refers more to the chances of survival for those brave volunteers who have been asked to undertake a dangerous job. A forlorn hope could be a cavalry unit, a traditional pike and shot regiment, a unit of commanded shot, a siege party tasked to place a petard whilst under fire, or a unit protecting an army's retreat.

The saker as advertised
(image from Warlord Games' website)

The saker as it arrives on the sprue - very different to how it is advertised on the Warlord website. This isn't a thin layer of flash, this is full thickness moulded infill. The middle of the carriage needs cutting out

That's a bit better, still needs a bit of a tidy up and some greenstuff carriage metalwork adding

A note on C17th artillery pieces: the names saker, falconet, culverin, cannon, and countless others refers to the size of cannonball that they fire. This is not like Napoleonic times when a 12pdr looks like a 12 pdr, there is no standardisation of what pieces looked like (other than items from a specific foundry would have the same sized barrels).

With a Peter Pig dragoon for comparison

I must say that whilst the detail on the sides of the mounted figures is very nice, a few contorted poses admittedly, the detail on many of the figures fronts and backs is very lacking in detail. Disappointingly so. One thing that is particularly noticeable by their absence is scarves. Troopers did often wear scarves, scarf wearing wasn't just the preserve of officers. Those figures that do sport scarves, they are somewhat underwhelming. Scarves were C17th bling, they should be rather flamboyant.

With a Peter Pig cuirassier for comparison

How do they compare to other brands? From what I have easily accessible here's a side by side shot

l-r Naismith on Peter Pig, Steel Fist, Epic, Peter Pig

I had a lot of hope for this sprue, mostly riding on my positive view of the infantry sprue, but I must confess that I am a little disappointed. The absence of detail of the front and backs of the riders is the deal breaker. If I was looking at creating armies using Epic I think I'd give the cavalry box a miss and purchase dragoons, horse and artillery train from either Peter Pig and/or Steel Fist.

I decided that it was only fair that I should at least paint one of the horse up. I chose one of the few figures that has decent detail on the front back of the rider.  The figure required a fair bit of cleaning up (mould lines), and I need to be a little more gentle with plastic figures: I'm so used to metal figures I managed to break one of the horse's legs off (all repaired quite easily). Noticed that the rider has no equipment cross belts or straps: his scabbard should, most likely,  hang from a cross belt, and his carbine would hang from a swivel fitting attached to another cross belt. Whilst this can be painted in, I notice that at least one figure sports moulded cross belts. So why are they absent?

Some straps are present on the back of a couple of figures, but are then completely absent from the front. Did the sculptor simply forget to wrap belts all the way around the torso?

Oopsies, missed the stirrups!

The shallowness of the detail on the rider doesn't lend itself to washes quite so well. 

Don't think this one will be based, it will not be joining my armies. 

To get these figures into any reasonable shape will require either a lot of time spent adding detail with greenstuff, or the paintbrush is going to have to do a lot of heavy lifting.

If I'm being kind I would have to describe these as 'disappointing', if I'm being honest I'd have to say that they are 'very poor'.

Update: as I have just received a foul mouthed tirade accusing me of, basically,  trying to sabotage Epic P&S, here's front and back pictures of the whole sprue of cavalry (with exception of the one figure I have painted). So zoom in, and make your own minds up.

So if you wonder why comments on blogs often show as 'needs to be moderated', now you know. Update to the update: comments and contact form have been suspended due to the torrent of abuse from a minority of the Epic community (you don't represent your community or the company whose products that you claim to be 'defending').

Warlord Games have been in touch offering to resolve the issue with what they describe as "substandard castings". It is only right and proper that they have a right of reply; I will of course update the post at the earliest moment: I am adamant that my reviews are fair and indicative of the products that we buy 'off the shelf'. You can see the difference between the two sprues here 

Since receiving the new sprue (to be honest I can't really spot any difference between the two) I have contacted Warlord asking if these are preproduction samples or if they are the finished article. I have also raised the issue of the saker. I will of course update this post with any response they offer. Warlord have not responded to my questions, and it doesn't appear that they will.

Those of you new to KeepYourPowderDry will find more Epic posts here

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  1. You are doing a public service. Thank you!

    1. Thanks for your kind words. To be honest, it keeps me out of mischief

  2. Seeing the individual horses close up in your review I am a little disappointed as well.

    1. From side on, great, but yes from the front and back they are disappointing. They aren't alone, I do think that the PP one piece figures lose some detail compared to the two piece figures (not on the same level as the Epic figures though)

  3. Good honest review with excellent photos. I had my own doubts about this particular Epic release, thought the pikemen a bit odd and the musketeers far too cramped but may have lived with that, the cavalry sprue however has made up my mind that it's not for me.

    1. I can see the appeal of 'everything in one box', but agree I don't think I would be signing up for this one.

  4. About musicians: I read somewhere else that there was a bugle mounted separately on the sprue. I believe it is in the left center of the sprue in your 1st pic

    1. Well spotted! I've completely missed it, and I knew of its existence. I mentioned the separate trumpet in my first look at the Epic range (I only had a press release to go on, not an actual cavalry sprue). Unfortunately, a glue on trumpet doesn't cut the mustard: trumpeters were not a soldier with a trumpet. They usually had flamboyant outfits and banners adorned their instruments. They didn't just knock out military commands, they were a protected role, carrying parlay messages across the lines.

  5. Thanks for this chap - I am still in love with the infantry a bit despite some of the flaws but I am thinking of steering towards Steel Fists rather impressive cavalry range off of the back of this (I have a cav sprue coming in the post so will give it the final peruse).

  6. In all honesty those cavalry are seriously bad! I was on the fence about this one but this helped immensely with me deciding to give this one a pass. I also don’t like the overly cramped shot and even the ratios are wrong. Of course people can use other cavalry figures but, while replacing a few command figures here and there might be acceptable, having to replace such a large contingent of the box really reduces the the overall value of the box IMO.

  7. Oh dear, they are rather disappointing.

  8. Oh, these looks really terrible.

  9. well, was not impressed with the Warlord previews for the layout (not enough Cuirassiers to sell this for TYW) and the hype around Epic ECW on some places of the internet did not really catch up with me, but with how the models look up close, no real reason to buy those over metal or 3d printed ones (or consider the Epic game an alternative to By Fire and Sword, for TYW)


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